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An entrepreneur who wants to build a sustainable company in the glass industry must formulate a bolder and more explicit strategy
Please brief our readers about the journey of Emirates Glass in the Middle East?
Emirates Glass was established in 1997 by Khalid Bin Kalban to become the leading provider of energy-efficient architectural glass in the Middle East. Since its inception the company has been an integral part of Dubai’s growth and evolution, having supplied glazing and expertise for many of the most iconic buildings across the city. However, Emirates Glass has also expanded its international presence and we are proud to have supplied our solutions to GCC countries such as Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Kuwait, but also to Azerbaijan, Turkey, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, East, and South Africa and even Canada.
Together with 80 different coatings, from hard and solar control coatings to low-emissivity single and double silver coatings across the entire color spectrum, Emirates Glass can offer a wide range of glass products with more than 400 different combinations to meet even the most challenging requirements we receive from consultants and architects in terms of performance and aesthetics. Other than that Emirates Glass produces a wide array of double or triple glazed insulating glass units, safety, bullet-resistant, and otherwise laminated glass – or a combination of any of the above. Some more special products include glazing units with captured or suspended aesthetical or performance-enhancing elements such as honeycomb diffusers, metal, and synthetic meshes or mashrabiya inserts to reflect our local heritage and ability to integrate traditional elements in modern and contemporary architecture.
Emirates Glass has developed ARMAX, our own anti-reflective coated glass which is provided to the Address SkyView by Emaar. The walls, roof, and floor of the so-called SkyWalk, a cantilevered walkway that extends out of one of the towers more than 50 floors above ground, are made entirely out of glass our anti-reflective glass. The main purpose is to allow visitors an omnidirectional view of Dubai’s skyline with minimal reflections from the glazing.
Emirates Glass also offers SmartLite – the state-of-the-art switchable glass, which changes its state in just about 400 milliseconds at the flick of a switch and turns from a clear to an opaque glass panel to create on-demand privacy while also allowing for plenty of natural light whenever needed.
Bullet resistant glass is also on display by Emirates Glass which is a multi-layered laminated glass with a combination of glass tiles and Polycarbonate sheet to give the glass the required ballistic resistance. Thus, bullet-resistant glass combinations are much thicker than the conventional architectural glass panels which are designed primarily as IG units for achieving the required thermal performance.
All of our products are developed and manufactured locally here in the UAE. Within our group of companies, we combine the entire supply and value chain of glass – from raw glass manufacturing in Abu Dhabi, overcoating in Dubai Investment Park, to processing, laminating, and fabrication of insulating glass units in Al Quoz. Having all of this under one roof is absolutely unique in the region.
Could you please tell us about some of your clients or the projects in your products that have been used?
Address Sky View by Emaar: Emirates Glass has provided ARMAX, our own anti-reflective coated glass to the SkyView project. The walls, roof, and floor of the SkyWalk, a cantilevered walkway that extends out of one of the towers more than 50 floors above ground, are made entirely out of our anti-reflective glass. The main purpose is to allow visitors an omnidirectional view of Dubai’s skyline with minimal reflections from the glazing! Kuwait Ministries Project: A very complicated project using Emirates Glass’s specialty products of Mashrabiya, Diffusers, Meshes, and EmiLam with colored PVB.
Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University: The gorgeous 3 million square meters LEED-certified campus of Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University is the World’s Largest Women’s University in Saudi Arabia. Designed by Perkins+Will, in collaboration with Dar Al- Handasah (Shair and Partners) (Dar), it is installed with Emicool Sun NN 60 Grey and Emicool Sun NN70 Grey in approximately 90,000 and 75,000 sqm respectively. Others include The Gate Towers- Egypt; King Abdullah International Airport – Saudi Arabia; Jabal Omar – Saudi Arabia; Dubai International Airport Terminal – UAE; Dubai Design District – UAE, etc.
Could you please tell us about your manufacturing facility and capacity?
At the heart of the Emirates, Glass operation is the manufacture of MSVD sputter-coated high-performance glass under the EmiCool® range of solar control, multi-functional Low-E, and Standard low-E glass designed to minimize solar heat gain into air-conditioned buildings in the Gulf environment.
Starting from Leybold (Germany) 6-cathode coating line with a loading-bed of 2440 mm x 3600 mm and an annual coating capacity of 750,000 sqm of MSVD sputter-coated glass, Emirates Glass later progressed to a 20-cathode line from Messrs Applied Materials GmbH, a loading bed of 3300x 7000 mm and an annual capacity of 3,500,000 sqm of MSVD sputter-coated glass. In line with Emirates Glass consistently pursuing a dynamic growth strategy in providing high-quality glass products and in response to the growing demand for tempered glass across the region, the company has recently upgraded the plant with the glaston jumbo series high-performance flat tempering line to provide top quality, bigger size tempered glass. The new tempering furnace is equipped with state-of-art technology and is designed to provide big glasses up to 8 meters that will increase the additional tempering capacity of Emirates Glass by 1.5 million sqm glass per year.
This addition enables Emirates Glass to enter a new and extensive market of post-temperable stock sheets from “downstream” processing into finished architectural glass products by our customers themselves.
What are the advantages Emirates Glass has over its competitors?
Establishing and maintaining any sort of differentiation or competitive advantage is a challenge in any market. First and foremost being ‘local’ means being geographically close to our customers and their projects which means being able to provide immediate personal support during design and construction periods but also shortest turnaround and lead times as well as delivery. Secondly, and as mentioned above, we are providing glass solutions as a one-stop-shop, so our customers have a single point of contact for every element used and every production step is taken. This eliminates the oftentimes frustrating search for a responsible party should any of our customers face issues with the products supplied. Lastly, Emirates Glass is a home-grown UAE company, so everything made and supplied by us is a contribution to the local economy and industrial landscape of what we all call our home.
• Emirates Glass prides itself on having a complete facility for full glass supply – from raw materials to high-performance insulated glass units installed on iconic projects in the world.
• Emirates Glass has a positive and resourceful customer service that aims to create the best experience for your customers. The team consists of intelligent and independent individuals who share the company’s passion and vision.
• Emirates Glass has a proactive approach and focuses on delivering quality products consistently. The team anticipates future advances in technology, customer service, and production, and incorporates them into their game plans.
• Emirates Glass has an international presence across 42 countries of the world.
• Emirates Glass marketing strategy and marketing positioning are refined, updated, and renewed regularly along with its execution.
Emirates Glass has also built a new warehouse which has boosted operational efficiencies based on the “3A principle”: • Accessibility
What sustainability means to you? How sustainable are your products?
Emirates Glass was one of the first founding members of the Emirates Green Building Council which is affiliated with the World Green Building Council. Through the technical committee of the EGBC, Emirates Glass has been involved in the creation of the first draft LEED standard for building in the UAE considering the UAE’s special environmental problems. This represents a powerful voice within the glazing sector of the construction industry and the contribution made by the company through the provision of energy-efficient glazing glass.
The Glass and Glazing Federation has also recognized energy and solar control standards similar to Dubai Municipality Decree 66 of 2003 and they ensure that a higher degree of design standard relating to glazing shading coefficients and performance is vigorously enforced. Consequently, architects responsible for Dubai-based products are increasingly turning to LEED criteria and other credible performance data to incorporate improved sustainability and lower energy costs in the sustainability profile of the projects. So, Emirates Glass has employed a research team that focuses both on breakthrough innovations and on continuously improving its products, processes, and services in a spirit of openness and attentiveness to customer needs. Whether you want safety, comfort, energy conservation, our researchers analyze and then achieve new levels of sophistication in glassmaking – and new applications for glass. Emirates Glass will work continuously to make glass perform in new ways – solving the customer needs of today and discovering the potential of glass for tomorrow.
Emirates Glass has recently got certification from Dubai Civil Defence. Could you please brief our readers about this achievement?
Emirates Glass LLC is proud to become the first glass processing company in the UAE to be registered with Dubai Civil Defence for its safety glazing products that include tempered and laminated glass. Emirates Glass’ tempered and laminated safety products are tested and certified to be ‘safe’ with the stamp of approval obtained from Dubai Civil Defence. This certification is based on independent assessment, process audits, and product testing conducted by M/s Thomas Bell Wright on behalf of Dubai Civil Defence. All the products tested passed Drop Height Class ‘A’ which is the highest impact classification level as stipulated in the safety glazing standard ANSI Z97.1.
The pandemic has affected all industries and businesses. How has been its impact your business and how are you coping up with the situation?
The COVID-19 outbreak has caused widespread concern and economic hardship for consumers, businesses, and communities across the globe. It is also presenting a range of challenges to the construction industry. Some construction projects have been delayed, and some canceled as a result of the impacts of COVID-19 on the companies and governments that commissioned them. Further, possible supply chain bottlenecks of equipment and raw materials cause project delays in currently funded projects or reduced spending on future ones. The industry is especially vulnerable given that the bulk of its workforce is employed in on-site jobs that cannot be done remotely. Additionally, many manufacturers are facing cash-flow liquidity challenges and difficulties in managing debt obligations. The most immediate impacts are being felt at the subcontractor middle market of the industry. Subcontractors may be especially vulnerable to bankruptcy, which could occur after a site shutdown of only weeks. The industry may see some manufacturers struggle to recover. However, glass manufacturing is deemed an essential business. That is because a lot of our glass solutions may go into safety applications too such as hospitals and a lot of the essential businesses like food markets and pharmacies.
Emirates Glass’ strength in the region can be mainly attributed to having a coating line and a processing (tempering/IGU) line under one roof which is unique. This helps us to bag projects that either have EGL coatings specified or have special requirements like digital printing/ceramic frit + coating on the outer panels which no other local glass processor can execute. So the focus going forward is to have such requirements specified on projects that enable EGL to be the sole processor to be able to fabricate such products.
The year ahead will vary for Emirates Glass depending on the areas of operation where we have felt the greatest impact from the pandemic It may focus on rebuilding lost revenue streams; require recalibrating supply networks to serve different market demands. But all in all, it includes a commitment to increasing agility in operations. By continuing to invest in digital initiatives across our production process and supply network, Emirates Glass can respond to the disruptions caused by the pandemic and build resilience that can enable the Company to thrive.
What are the major opportunities for your business in the Middle East?
The glass industry has evolved leaps and bounds in the last few decades – from the usage of uncoated monolithic glass products in windows to the use of high-performance double and triple glazed insulated glass products. The technological developments in the glass industry have considerably helped to reduce cooling loads in buildings increasing efficiency. Furthermore, international standards for glass processing have also been reviewed and modified to address glass quality and safety factors that were not addressed in the old days. Local governing bodies and regulatory authorities to have implemented guidelines and regulations (Green Building Codes for e.g..) that are focused on sustainability and increased efficiency.
Now the market wants high selectivity – a high visible light to solar heat gain ratio. But in this region, due to the high intensity of natural sunlight, façade consultants opt for moderate light transmission while aiming to achieve the lowest possible solar heat gain. In the end, it is up to the architect and specific application (facades, skylights, atriums, etc.). But the glass industry is surely able to provide the best product.
The next big thing is glazing with the ability to passively generate energy. Currently available are products like Kromatix, an alternative façade cladding for non-vision panels and spandrel, which have integrated photovoltaic capabilities. Surely the next evolutionary step should be fully transparent glazing elements that generate energy at high efficiencies and help buildings to achieve net-zero carbon emission.
What are your goals and plans for the next 4-5 years?
As the region continues to grow, Emirates Glas’s prospects are good. Looking forward, Emirates Glass will further expand its footprint across the GCC and Middle Eastern region. We aim to be the preferred glazing supplier in at least three more countries, with a wide range of products fulfilling the current and upcoming green building regulations. Of course, we will continue to put our best efforts into the development of energy-efficient glass solutions and special products that will further transform the landscape from regular buildings to pieces of art and architectural ingenuity. We are committed and dedicated to driving innovation throughout the Middle East and beyond and strive to be even closer to the creative minds within architecture firms.
Increasing the market share will be accomplished by improving the efficiency of our manufacturing process with new machines, etc. Increased demand for oversized IG panels can be catered to using jumbo size glass processing units. Upgradation of Terra- G coater will also enable in improving the performance and durability of the temperable coated products.
Likewise, we will be investing in people because, when all is said and done, they are our most valued asset.
Given the company’s emphasis on keeping up-to-date with customer needs and the technological advancements that take place within the glass industry, we plan to update the plant with new high-efficient machines that will increase production at a reduced cost in the future. The company’s personnel are also expected to be equipped with highly professional technical knowledge thus playing their part in decision making. This all, we believe, will help us in acquiring a greater market share which will ultimately result in the growth of the company’s profits and revenue.
The surging demand for EGL’s eco-friendly glass further reinforces the growing commitment towards sustainable development and green building principles. With such quality products, Emirates Glass is aggressively aiming at increased market share in existing and new geographies.”
The goal of Emirates Glass is not only to provide the full range of high-performance large glass panels but also to guarantee the highest quality standard available in the glass world.
Emirates Glass has also planned to introduce the ceramic frit machine – jumbo and new jumbo double glazing line enabling it to remain on top of the glass processing across the Middle East.
As you are a market leader, what one piece of advice you would like to give to the new entrants?
Many entrepreneurs start businesses to seize short-term opportunities without thinking about long-term strategy. To be a successful entrepreneur, one needs to make the transition from a tactical to a strategic orientation so that one can begin to build crucial capabilities and resources.
The options that are appropriate for one entrepreneurial venture may be completely inappropriate for another. Entrepreneurs must make a bewildering number of decisions, and they must make the decisions that are right for them. Entrepreneurs need to analyze the situations in which they find themselves, establish priorities among the opportunities and problems they face, and make rational decisions about the future.
An entrepreneur who wants to build a sustainable company in the glass industry must formulate a bolder and more explicit strategy. The strategy should integrate the entrepreneur’s aspirations with specific long-term policies about the needs the company will serve, its geographic reach, its technological capabilities, and other strategic considerations. To help attract people and resources, the strategy must embody the entrepreneur’s vision of where the company will go instead of where it is. The strategy must also provide a framework for making the decisions and setting the policies that will take the company there.
Rizwanulla Khan is a name synonymous with the Glass industry in the Middle East, is the Executive President of Emirates Glass LLC & Saudi American Glass. He joined the Company on September 20, 2005, as Senior Vice President of manufacturing and operations at Glass LLC. Since assuming the Executive President position for three subsidiaries on December 23, 2013, He has been responsible for the Company’s overall vision, strategy, and financial objectives. In his current role, Rizwanulla is a key architect of the Company’s long-term strategic plan, which is focused on increasing geographic penetration in the global and regional glass industry and delivering sustainable, long-term, profitable growth. The strategy includes prioritizing resources to the most promising opportunities by creating cost efficiencies.